Mountain Motor Speedway, known for its extreme motorsport races, is closing down after more than 70 years. The iconic venue in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, hosted the final race today, with all 750 drivers in attendance. The last few months have been hard for the iconic track, with its gates having been closed since mid-March and the final race only taking place due to popular demand.
The news of Mountain Motor Speedway‘s closure was confirmed today via a Facebook post from the venue’s publicist. In the post, the publicist announced that the track had officially ceased operations and that all 750 driver and spectator badges will no longer be valid.
Why Is Mountain Motor Speedway Closing?
It’s been more than six months since the gates of Mountain Motor Speedway were last opened, with the last race being held on June 25th, 2020. In that time, the track has laid dormant, with little to no active motorsport taking place there. During that period, the track’s operators have been hard at work trying to find a buyer for the famous speedway, with no solution being found. The situation reached a head earlier this month when the track’s operators had to resort to calling off the final race due to lack of interest from prospective buyers. Things didn’t go according to plan, with more than 500 ticket-holders showing up to the gates and hundreds more watching the action via livestream. It was a completely unexpected turn of events and completely out of the blue.
The lack of business activity at Mountain Motor Speedway isn’t due to a lack of trying on the part of the track’s operators. Over the last year, the track has been trying to sell itself with a view to reopening its doors as soon as possible. The effort has seen the track’s operators contact hundreds of potential buyers with no solid leads. Now, it seems, their search for a buyer has finally come to an end, with a sale to a Canadian motorsport group announced today.
What Is The Canadian Automobile Racing Group?
The Canadian Automobile Racing Group (C.A.R.G) is a motorsport group based out of Ontario and Quebec, with the track itself being located in the Gatlinburg region of Tennessee. The group’s goal is to purchase and operate Mountain Motor Speedway so that it can stage motorsport events there, with the first planned race being a MotoGP event in August 2021.
The announcement was made this afternoon via a press release issued by the group’s owners, Chad and Lisa Larose. In the release, the couple praised the track as “an incredible venue that served as a springboard for many drivers’ careers” and said that they were “honored to be considered as the next owner” of the iconic track. They went on to thank the track’s operators for their efforts in trying to sell the venue and wished them success in their future endeavors.
Mountain Motor Speedway was first established in 1946, with the original layout being a dirt oval. The track then underwent a major re-development during the 1960s, with the current, semi-cinder track being laid down during the decade. The track’s operators have been trying to sell the business and property for more than a year. In that time, they have held numerous open houses for potential buyers and showed off the track’s impressive layout and amenities, with several prospective buyers scouting out the facility in search of a motorsport or entertainment venue. In total, the track’s owners haled more than 500 potential buyers through the venue’s doors. After many false starts, it seems that the search for a buyer is finally over and the track will close its doors for the last time today.
What Does This Mean For The Future Of Motorsports In The US?
This is certainly a big blow to the motorsport community in the US, with the news that an iconic track is closing down after more than 70 years. In that time, the facility has hosted some incredible motorsport moments, with many top drivers and teams visiting the track. Names like David Pearson, Rodger Ward, and Mario Andretti all raced there, with Ward even going on to win the track’s first-ever Grand Prix back in 1962. It was during his time at the track that Ward perfected the art of pit-stopping and earned himself the nickname “The King of Crickets”.
The track has also seen numerous stars visit the facility’s gates, with many more traveling there to witness the action live via livestream. The track’s operators hosted an “Open House” earlier this year, with hundreds of people visiting the venue and getting a glimpse of what the speedway has to offer. The press release issued by the track’s future owners states that they hope to stage weekly “bull riding events” and “car shows” in addition to MotoGP and Monster Truck events.
This is certainly a dark day for motorsport in the US, with Mountain Motor Speedway closing its doors after more than 70 years. Fortunately, this isn’t the end of the road for Ward’s legacy. One of today’s most recognized drivers, Jimmie Johnson, is sponsored by Ward and will be teaming up with his father, former NASCAR driver Lee, for a race at the track on July 7th. The NASCAR Hall Of Fame member will be carrying the #42 in honor of Ward, with all proceeds going toward fighting cancer.
What do you think the future of motorsport will be like in the US now that Mountain Motor Speedway has closed its doors? Let us know in the comments below.